The Club of the Future – Major Societal Trends Shaping Clubs

Club of the Future

McMahon Group’s four principal club consultants, Bill McMahon, Sr., Frank Vain, Richard Lareau, CCM, CCE and I had the privilege of presenting the Club of the Future program to
a standing-room-only crowd at the CMAA World Conference.

The everchanging world we live in from the impact of the rising Millennials to the still important Boomers are everchanging the club industry we know. Golf, while once the major club driver, is settling down to just one of many important recreation offerings at a club. New concepts are entering the club world such as “third place”, “recreation/wellness”, “branding” and “ease of use” for the individual as well as the entire family. These trends are the new mantra for club success.

The Third Place

Let’s start with the third place – an often-used term today; but, what really is it? The third place can be different things to different people. In all cases, however, it is a place where you want to be. It is a place of social interaction, a place to share life with friends and, most of all, a place where everyone knows your name. Remember Cheers? The third place is not a new concept; but, it is a new concept for most clubs to achieve.


Next it is about recreation/wellness offerings, which dominate our lifestyle aspect today. Clubs with recreation/wellness offerings will have larger memberships, so they have the financial wherewithal to offer a broad array of recognition offerings in high-quality ways. From McMahon Group’s survey research of thousands of club members, we have learned that the larger a club’s membership, the higher the overall member satisfaction with their club and the higher their perceived value of membership. Health, wellness and recreation are continuing trends that will affect the club of the future in the new ways we offer them.


Then there is the importance of branding to immediately conjure a minds-view of quality, recognition and great experiences. Great clubs, like great products, have instant recognition for their members; hopefully ones of fun, recreation, friendships and being part of something special.


Finally, all clubs must communicate far better as we shape the club of the future. Clubs must embrace technology in suitable ways, not ban it. If clubs can’t communicate well with their members, they will fail. So, the clubs of the future must continually embrace the technology trends of the society they serve.

What Is the Real Social Glue at Clubs?

The bar and dining experience. These two areas bring members together before and after recreation and social experiences. It is interesting to note that good club dining is not about having the best food around. It is much more about achieving favorite place status as one of members’ favorite places to dine. This simply means that favorite place status is achieved with convenience, consistently good food quality, good value, friends are there, attractive surroundings and again “a place where everyone knows your name.”

Many Clubs of the Future Are Here Now

In reviewing the clubs today enjoying waiting lists to join and prosperity with extensive facility programs, that are also composed of many, many very satisfied members, we know many clubs of the future are here with us today. Just observe such clubs as The Country Club of Virginia, Boca West Country Club, The Union League of Philadelphia, Baltusrol Golf Club, The Briar Club, Bel-Air Bay Club and numerous others. It does not happen by accident. Such clubs have a vision. They have a strategic plan and every true club of the future has a great manager today. It is acknowledged that club management is probably the most important ingredient for true club success.

To request a handout of The Club of the Future presentation, please click here to e-mail Alison Duffy.


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About Bill McMahon

Vice President

Bill is a private club planner providing strategic planning, member research analysis and facility planning services for private clubs across North America. Bill joined McMahon Group in 1999 and has worked with over 200 clubs helping to solve their strategic and facility needs.

Bill is Co-Editor of Club Trends, a quarterly report published with the National Club Association (NCA). He has written for many private club publications like The BoardRoom Magazine, Club Director and more, and has been a featured speaker at national conferences, local chapters and other associations serving the private club industry. He is also on the NCA’s Communications Committee.

Bill has been instrumental in developing and enhancing the McMahon Group online presence. He created and runs Clubtopia® ( – an online business directory of firms and companies serving the club industry.

Bill’s club memberships have included Bellerive Country Club (St. Louis), Glen Echo Country Club (St. Louis) and the Missouri Athletic Club (St. Louis). He proudly serves on the Board of Cinema St. Louis ( and is Second Vice President on the Board of the Tennessee Society of St. Louis.


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